Showing posts from November, 2012

My First Day by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Steve Jenkins is remarkably prolific, both as an illustrator and an author. In fact, The Beetle Book is on the The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books list this year and he and his wife and frequent collaborator Robin Page won a Caldecott Honor for their book What Do you Do with a Tail Like This? Remarkably, sadly, I have never reviewed any of his books - until now!
Jenkins is known for his stunning illustrations, crisp-edged, brightly colored collages as much as he is known for his presentation of information in a way that speaks directly to young readers. In his acceptance speech for the Boston Globe Horn Book Award (Top of the World, 2000) Steve said of his work, in my books, I try to present straightforward information in a context that makes sense to children. Children don't need anyone to give them a sense of wonder; they already have that. But they do need a way to incorporate the various bits and pieces of knowledge they acquire into some logical picture of…

What Happens Next? and Who Lives Here? by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Marc Boutavant

Nicola Davies is a zoologist and, fortunately for kids and parents, a fantastic kid's book author. From poetry (Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature) to very funny non-fiction books about animals (Talk, Talk Squawk and four others in the series) to the wonderful Flip the Flap and Find Out series, to which she has just added two new books. Earlier this year the series, illustrated by Marc Boutavant, kicked off with What Will I Be? and Who's Like Me?

Geared toward toddlers with good attention spans, these books have thick, sturdy pages and are a stepping stone between board books and traditional picture books, both in format and content. Davies has a way with presenting her information and making it palatable to even the littlest listeners. In What Happens Next? we take a trip through the animal kingdom and learn different behaviors. One page reads, "Here are two chimps who want some food. Here's a mound full of tasty termites - but it's hard as a rock.&quo…


I can't believe that I didn't know thatTake Your Child to a Bookstorewas a thing! It is! And, it's very well organized! There are over 400 bookstores participating this year with special story times and other events worth checking out. Click HEREto see a fantastic map of the US locating all the bookstores who will have fun things going on this Saturday. Click on the book on the map for the name of the store AND a link to their website so you can get all the details.
And while you are at the bookstore having fun with your kids, taking a look at all the fantastic new books out there, maybe even sitting down and reading a few, I have one thing to ask of you:  PLEASE BUY A BOOK OR TWO. It won't kill you to pay full price for a book once in a while. Think of it this way, independent bookstores are like public radio - they are a great, entertaining and free. Depending on where you live these days, you can go into a bookstore and browse. You can feel the books, smell the books…

How to Be a Detective by Dan Waddell, illustrated by Jim Smith

How to Be a Detective by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jim Smith, is yet another fantastically fun interactive book from the superb Candlewick Press, the fine publisher who brought us the excellent Ologies as well as a series of amazing interactive non fiction books featuring Marco Polo, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Cleopatra.
How to Be a Detective is definitely for starter-sleuths and is a very basic introduction to searching for clues, analyzing evidence and solving the case. Kids over the age of nine or ten might be a bit disappointed with How to Be a Detective and are probably better off with Spyology, which is more complex and detailed. How to Be a Detective comes with a kit that includes a tiny ink pad, a periscope and other goodies to help when the game is afoot. Waddell begins by introducing readers to Sherlock Holmes, including a letter to the reader from this great detective, and promises to help the reader "find out what it takes to be a sleuth and solve bafflin…

Who Do You Think You Are? Be a Family Tree Detective by Dan Waddell, illustrated by Warwick Johnson Caldwell

Before I begin this review, I need to say that I did not realize Who Do You Think You Are is a television show featuring celebrities looking into their family trees... When Who Do You Think You Are : Be a Family Tree Detective hit the shelves of the bookstore where I was working, it seemed like a coo way for kids to delving into their family history. Especially around the holidays when families get together and kids have the chance to ask questions and listen to stories. So, my apologies for inadvertently promoting a television show here, however peripherally.
An interactive book, Who Do You Think You Are : Be a Family Tree Detective comes with all sorts flaps, envelops and goodies that are best discovered by watching the book trailer below. There is an actual family tree poster to be filled in along with a book tucked into the back of the book called "My Treasures" that allows the reader to fill in facts about herself/himself that will help the next generation in filling o…

Cinderella : A Three-Dimensional Fairy-Tale Theater by Jane Ray

I adore the illustrations of Jane Ray. She has had a long and prolific career and I have reviewed her books The Dollhouse Fairy, The Twelve Days of Christmas and Classic Fairy Tales Told by Bertie Doherty, which she illustrated. Her illustrations are detailed, colorful and magical. But, above all else, they are diverse. And by that I mean not everybody is white. Along with the wonderful Marla Frazee (and a few others I apologize for forgetting here...) she is probably the most consistent with her representation of a range of cultures in her illustrations. All of this combines to make her the perfect artist to bring us a three-dimensional fairy-tale theater edition of this classic story, which is divided into six acts. The text of the story appears on either side of the stage/page with the illustration itself telling much of the story. This is the kind of book that you pore over, the kind of book you prop open then lay on the floor and gaze into. The kind of book you give as a gift! 

3D Expanding Pocket Guides from Candlewick Press

Once again, the amazing Candlewick Press is behind books that are beautiful, fun and even educational. And, in this case, relatively inexpensive! Stunning artist Sarah McMeney is the creator of these fantastic, pocket size guides that make traveling with a kid so much easier. I am of the belief that any trip can be made more exiting (or tolerable) when kids are given books that will inform and guide them on their adventure. These 3D Expanding Pocket Guides are ideal because they are small, light and inexpensive ($8.99!!!!) and have the added attraction for kids of being interactive. The newest book in the series features the Metropolitan Museum of Art, highlighting twelve galleries, rooms and courts that will appeal most to young visitors and including a map on the last two folds. McMeney illustrates her subjects with a bright, colorful palette, paper engineering giving each spread an in depth perspective. A brief descriptive paragraph accompanies each feature as well. This is the fi…